South Dakota State Motto
State mottoes may be said to reflect the character and beliefs of the citizens of the state, or more accurately, the citizens of the state when they were adopted. State mottoes can help us gain insight into the history of a state. [What is a motto? ]
Adoption of the South Dakota State Motto
The South Dakota motto, like others, was adopted as part of the state seal. It was suggested by the Reverend Joseph Ward, founder of Yankton College, at the 1885 Constitutional Convention. It was adopted as the South Dakota motto, as an element of the state seal in the 1885 constitution and in the 1889 constitution.
The wording in the South Dakota Constitution, pertaining to the motto, reads:
About the South Dakota State Motto
One of 21 English state mottoes, Under God, the People Rule is also one of four state mottoes that express a religious sentiment.
The South Dakota Constitution
Like many states, South Dakota's state motto was adopted as an element of its official seal. The following information is excerpted from the South Dakota Constitution, Article 21, Section 1.
ARTICLE XXI - MISCELLANEOUS.
The South Dakota Statutes
The following information is excerpted from the South Dakota Statutes, Title 1, Chapter 6, Section 1-6-2.
TITLE 1 - STATE AFFAIRS AND GOVERNMENT.
In the right foreground is a farmer with black hat, red shirt, navy-blue trousers and black boots, holding a black and silver breaking plow, drawn by a matched team of brown horses with a black harness. In the right background and above the horses in a pasture of grey-green, a herd of rust-colored cattle graze in front of a field of yellow-brown corn, part in shock and part in cut rows to the rear and above which are blue and purple hills forming a low background and receding into the distance. Between the right and left foregrounds and backgrounds is a light-blue river merging in the distance into a sky-blue and cloudless sky. Moving upstream on the river is a white steamboat with a single black funnel from which grey smoke spirals upward. Green shrubbery appears on the near bank of the river, in the left foreground and on the right bank of the river near the pasture is a yellow field. The farmer is turning black-brown furrows which reach across the circle and in his foreground is a field of brown-green-yellow.
Near the upper edge of the inner circle at the top on a golden quarter circle which is one-fifth in width the distance between the innermost and the outermost circles that compose the seal, shall appear in black, the state motto: "Under God the People Rule." This innermost circle is circumscribed by a golden band one-fourth as wide as the above-described quarter circle, which inner border, shall be circumscribed by a deep blue circle four and one-half times as wide as the above quarter circle, on which in golden letters one-third its width, in height, shall appear at the top the words, "State of South Dakota." In the lower half of the deep blue circle shall appear in words of equal height "Great" and "Seal" between which shall be the numerals "1889." Between the above-stated names and on either side shall appear a golden star one-half in size the width of the deep blue circle. Circumscribing this deep blue circle shall be a band of gold of the same width as of the inner golden band.
Outside of this outer golden band shall be a serrated or saw-toothed edge of small triangles whose base shall be of the same width as the above quarter circle.
Source: SL 1961, ch 291, § 1.
State Motto List: List of all of the state mottoes.
State Names, Seals, Flags, and Symbols: A Historical Guide, Third Edition - Benjamin F. Shearer and Barbara S. Shearer, Greenwood Press, 2002
State Names, Flags, Seals, Songs, Birds, Flowers and Other Symbols: A Study based on historical documents giving the origin and significance of the state names, nicknames, mottoes, seals, flowers, birds, songs, and descriptive comments on the capitol buildings and on some of the leading state histories, Revised Edition - George Earlie Shankle, Ph.D., The H.W. Wilson Company, 1938 (Reprint Services Corp. 1971)
Source: South Dakota Constitution, (http://legis.state.sd.us/statutes/index.cfm?FuseAction=ConstitutionArticleList), March 24, 2005
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